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Bill slated by adoptees and birth parents

By Conall O Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Wednesday, July 07, 2010

THE newly passed Adoption Bill has been heavily criticised for failing to include information and tracing rights for more than 42,000 adopted people and birth parents.

The controversial legislation, which passed through all Houses of the Oireachtas last week, ensures Irish laws comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

The legislation was widely welcomed by groups representing people seeking to adopt from abroad.

However, groups representing adopted people and birth parents have expressed their disappointment that information and tracing rights promised since 1999 have been omitted from the legislation.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said while the implementation of the Hague Convention is to be welcomed, the bill ignores the highly significant area of information and tracing rights and services for 42,000-plus adopted people and their extended families here.

"It has no provisions for adopted people to have the right to know they are adopted. It is not child-centred, as the minister says. It is about making child procurement from a range of different countries easier for prospective adoptive parents. It merely pays lip-service to the phrase: ‘in the best interests of the child’," she said.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews said he intended to bring in a separate piece of legislation to the current Adoption Bill dealing with the issue of tracing and information rights for adopted people and birth parents. However, the Office of the Minister for Children offered no timeframe as to when such legislation will be introduced.

Chairwoman of Adoption Loss – The Natural Parents’ Network, Bernie Harold, said she was "angry and disappointed" at the lack of information and tracing rights in the legislation.

"The traumatic impact on natural parents of the loss of their children to a closed adoption system is immense. Further, adopted people should have the right to know they are adopted and all parties should have access to support and counselling services," she said.

Chairman of the International Adoption Association, Brian O’Callaghan, said Mr Andrews was to be "congratulated" for introducing the legislation which allows applicants already approved to complete their adoption under the provisions of the Adoption Act 1991.

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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